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The Effects of Foreign-Born Peers in US High Schools and Middle Schools

Author

Listed:
  • Jason Fletcher
  • Jinho Kim
  • Jenna Nobles
  • Stephen Ross
  • Irina Shaorshadze

Abstract

The multi-decade growth and spatial dispersion of immigrant families in the United States has shifted the composition of US schools, reshaping the group of peers with whom students age through adolescence. US-born students are more likely to have foreign-born peers and foreign-born students are more likely to be educated outside of enclaves. This study examines the short-term and long-term impact of being educated with immigrant peers, for both US-born and foreign-born students. We leverage a quasi-experimental research design that uses across-grade, within-school variation in cohort composition for students in the Add Health study. We describe effects on a broad set of education, social, and health outcomes. For US-born students, we find little evidence that having immigrant peers affects a wide array of outcomes, either in adolescence or in adulthood. For foreign-born students, attending school with other immigrant students is protective against risky health behaviors and social isolation, relative to native born students. However, foreign-born students’ language skills measured with Picture-Vocabulary Test scores are negatively affected by attending school with a larger share of other immigrant students. The negative effect on vocabulary scores persists through young adulthood but does not translate into reductions in most longer-run socioeconomic outcomes, including earnings or the economic status of their residential neighborhoods.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason Fletcher & Jinho Kim & Jenna Nobles & Stephen Ross & Irina Shaorshadze, 2019. "The Effects of Foreign-Born Peers in US High Schools and Middle Schools," NBER Working Papers 26491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26491
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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